The second vector of THE LEADERSHIP COMPASS is ‘People.’ In the previous blog, we provided insights on how to build and sustain a winning culture. In recent years, Jim Collins pointed out the criticality of this among organizations that financially outperformed others by “getting the right PEOPLE on the bus.” While the ‘bus’ refers to an organization’s business culture (values, mission, vision), I continue to be amazed by the lack of practical ‘know-how’ among managers and leaders about PEOPLE, let alone how to identify, effectively manage and lead, and develop the ‘right people.’ This blog provides a quick snapshot of the keys to doing so.
In my work during the past several decades with many outstanding leaders, researchers, and practitioners in the field of leadership and management I have discovered that most leaders and managers have an upside opportunity for stronger performance in either the areas of people or task management. In fact, others have shown that by more than a 2:1 ratio the opportunity for most is in their sub-optimized management of people. This is consistent with the finding that at senior leadership levels most career derailments are due to relationship management difficulties, not task performance. In the past, I have routinely worked with sizeable client organizations in which their managers have had very little formal management training. In other cases, I’ve also worked with very large international corporations like one in which they had totally been misinterpreting with outside consulting ‘help’ an effective leadership model that I co-authored until I pointed out how the applications and uses were flawed and not likely to achieve their targeted strategic business results. So what do managers and leaders need to know and do in the PEOPLE vector?
The first step, and most important basis for sustained business success with people, is knowing why we do what we do. This involves two dimensions: motivations and capabilities. Motivations tell us whether a person will or won’t do something. By contrast, Capabilities tell us whether a person can or can’t do something.
The second step is to appropriately respond to their performance. When the desired performance is provided, focus on what is driving this person to continue and strengthen it by reinforcing the drive or talent that energize this performer. And, when performance is lower than desired, focus on whether the cause is their motivation (habits, values, or interests) or capabilities (job-specific, transferable, or adaptability).
The third step is the classic one expected of leaders and effective managers — namely to help people become better performers than they otherwise would. For motivational issues I’ve often found that simply asking “What would it take for you to be motivated to achieve the expected performance result?” can lead you to its attainment much more often than you might think. And, for lower capabilities-based performance telling this performer “I’d like you to spend 5-10 minutes with (a high performer you identify) and ask her/him ‘If there was only one thing I could do to make significant progress toward achieving this expected result that you’ve been identified as doing well, what would it be?”
Beyond these quick tips, in the spirit of helping you take your own performance to the next level, contact me today. I will be glad to send you a free assessment focused on one of the motivation or capabilities dimensions in the online Global Profiles System I have developed as a member of the Trainingindustry.com Leadership Community.
Dr. Michael O’Connor is a recognized practical visionary and problem-solving author, consultant, coach, and mentor focused on winning performance. He is the creator of the Optimal Business Performance Model and author and co-author of many resources, including the best-selling ‘Winning Culture’ book, MANAGING BY VALUES as well as THE LEADER WITHIN, GPS FOR SUCCESS, and PEOPLE SMART. He is the founder of Life Associates, The Center For Managing By Values, O’Connor Associates, and their current successor company, Potentia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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